Studebaker's First Office
In 1852, Clement and Henry Studebaker arrived in South Bend and opened a blacksmith shop located at the intersection of Michigan and Jefferson and in 1857 they built their first carriage. The received a contract to build several hundred wagons for the United States Government and developed a special process to quickly age their timber and were able to complete the contract as well as expand their business.
Clement and Henry’s brother, John, had been traveling through California and returned to South Bend and began working for the company. Henry retired to his newly purchased farm, and John and Clement were so successful at building and selling wagons they needed to recruit their brother, Peter, to help with the operation by building a showroom in Goshen. During the Civil War the Studebaker Company supplied the Union with wagons, providing the brothers another opportunity to expand their operations. After the war the sold many wagons during the period of westward expansion. By 1868 the Studebaker’s annual sales were over $350,000 and officially formed the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company.
Their company transformed again in 1902 when they began manufacturing automobiles. The Studebaker company is actually the only of its kind that was able to transition from building wagons and carriages to manufacturing motorized vehicles successfully. Their plant in South Bend continued producing cars and expanded until the automotive decline in 1963. The Studebaker's success and prosperity led to the sponsorship of several building programs in South Bend and the surrounding areas for commercial, civic, religious, and residential purposes.
The Studebaker Mansion, now known as Tippecanoe Restaurant, can be visited just west of the downtown area today. Other notable South Bend buildings include the JMS on the corner of Main Street and West Washington, St. Paul's Memorial United Methodist Church at 1001 West Colfax, and the 'Studebaker Block' located on the corner of Michigan and Jefferson (now demolished).
Danielson, Kay Marnon. Images of America Series: South Bend, Indiana. Chicago, IL: Arcadia Publishing, 2001.
Erskine, Albert Russel. History of the Studebaker Corporation. Chicago, IL: The Studebaker Corporation, 1924.
Palmer, John. The Making of America Series: South Bend, Crossroads of Commerce. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2003.
Romine, Joan. Tippecanoe Place. South Bend, IN: Southhold Restorations Inc., 1972.